Home Prices – How to Find the Best Deal when Buying a House; Part 1


Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor

Military VA Loan interviewed Realtor® and veteran Ed Kunkel, Jr. to find out how to find the lowest home prices when buying a home. In the first installment of this three-part interview, Ed shares some valuable insights about the first steps a prospective homebuyer can take to ensure the best home price and value.

MVL: Most of today’s homebuyers are on a tight budget. What can frugal home shoppers do to find the best deal, prior to meeting with their real estate agent?

Ed: Save as much money as you can!  This will likely be the biggest financial decision you will make in your lifetime, and the key to success is leveraging your resources.  Every penny that you can manage to put away from now until it’s time for you to buy will help towards your down payment, closing costs, improvements that you want to make to your home, etc.  Also, you should inquire with your agent about how to obtain a home warranty on the home that you purchase.  Home warranties cover replacement and repair costs of appliances, plumbing, electrical and other issues that may pop up when you take ownership of your new home.

MVL: As a real estate agent, what’s your first step in helping clients find the best price on a home that will suit them well?

 Ed: Assuming that my client has been pre-approved, and has a good understanding of what their budget will comfortably allow, the first step is to determine what type of home and location will be most suitable for the buyer’s needs.  Does the client want to be within a certain school district, within a traveling range of their employment, family, friends, etc?  How large is their family?  Would a large home with 4 bedrooms meet their needs, or would they be happy in a 2 bedroom condominium?  Understanding what is most desired or best suited for my client’s needs will help me understand the value in what they’re looking for.

MVL: There’s a lot of talk lately about rising home prices. Are there still homes out there that are priced below market?

Ed: Thankfully, distressed properties are no longer dominating the market like they once were.  This shift is compounded by housing inventory not keeping up with consumer demand.  What does this mean to the consumer?  We’re leaning towards a seller’s market now to put it plainly.  We are no longer looking for the market to hit rock bottom – we’ve already been there, and now we’re on our way back up.  This is a good thing for buyers and sellers, simply because we have stability in the market again.

As far as finding homes that are priced below market value, we can find them in any market.  But don’t overlook the bigger picture – the cost of borrowing money is at an all time low.  Home values may be on the rise, but they’re not out of control, and still affordable.  You can find a wonderful new home with the right interest rate and payment to be close to what you pay in rent.

MVL:  In your opinion, will the housing market continue to heat up, or should someone looking to buy sit on the fence a while longer?

Ed: We know that the market has shifted, there’s no question about it.  If you’re a consumer, and as long as it’s within your means and plans to buy, you should commit yourself to buying a home this year.  Eventually, rates and the cost of borrowing money are going to go up, and we are already seeing an increase in home values.  Simply put, if you wait until next year, two years, or longer from now, you will pay more for your home than you would pay now.

 MVL:  Is there any advice you would give a client before walking into a particular house to help them get the best deal?

 Ed: Yes!  This depends upon who the seller is, the market demand, and why it’s important to have a skilled buyer’s agent to help you negotiate.  Every home on the market has a story and a reason for being on the market.  A skilled agent will be able to ask the right questions and identify with what triggers a seller to help his buyers negotiate price, concessions, and repairs.  Everyone wants the best deal, the challenge is finding the balance between negotiating what’s best for my client, while not undervaluing the home to the point where my client loses the best home they have found to someone else.

See part 2 and part 3 of this interview. Ed has lots more advice about how to find the best deal on your home purchase.

Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. He has been an active real estate professional since 2000 and loves to help people realize the American dream of homeownership. In Ed’s own words, “It’s a rewarding experience for me to be a trusted part of one of the biggest financial and personal decisions people make.”  Visit Ed here

Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.